NCERT Solutions for Class 9 History Chapter 6 - Peasants and Farmers
Chapter 6 - Peasants and Farmers Exercise 137
- A rich farmer: During the 16th century, when the process for wool went by in the world market, rich farmers wanted to expand wool production to earn profits. Therefore, they began to privatize the best parts of the common land and open fields for themselves. This was done to ensure that their sheep receives the best fodder available. They also began to enclose the common lands and grew hedges around them to restrict the poor from entering their fields for grazing their animals.
- A labourer: For the poor, the common land was essential for survival. It helped them to graze their cows and sheep, collect fuel wood for fire and berries and fruit for food. It also helped them fish in the rivers and ponds and hunt rabbit in common forests. This supplemented their meagre income, sustained their cattle and helped them tide over bad times when crops failed.
- A peasant woman: The open filed system was a good way of community living, wherein everything was shared between the rich and poor. It would enable them to use the common land for gazing their cattle, gathering fruits and collecting firewood.
The factors that led to the enclosures in England were mostly profit-driven. These are as listed below:
- In the 16th century, an increase in the wool price promoted rich farmers to expand their production to increase their profits. They then began to enclose the best pastures of common lands for their own cattle.
- Also, to improve sheep-breeding and ensure good fodder, the rich farmers began to enclosed the common land and grow hedges surrounding it to keep the poor away.
- Increase in English population led to enclosure of lands to produce more and more grains to feed the population.
- Industrialisation growth and war led to food grain prices soaring, making it necessary to take steps to increase its production.
- Long-term investments on land and plan crop rotations to improve the soil were considered to be important for enclosures to take place.
By 1850, nearly 6 million hectares of land was enclosed and the British Parliament had passed 4000 Acts legalising these enclosures.
Threshing machines were opposed by the poor in England because it decreases employment opportunities of workmen during harvest-time. Previously, labourers had lived with the landowners, doing odd jobs around the farm. Later, they were hired on wages and only during harvest-time. However, with the coming of the threshing machine, most of these labourers were left unemployed and without a means of livelihood. Also, the situation worsened when soldiers returned to villages after the Napoleonic wars and needed jobs.
Captain Swing was the mythic name appended in some of the threatening letters used during the rural English protests. It was used against the utilisation of threshing machines and landowners' reluctance to employ labourers. The movement had an imaginary leader with a multiple-use name. His name was chosen, in a form of morbid humour, to echo the prisons that the rebels who got involved in this uprising would have to face.
This name became so common in 1830 that the riots started by the poor labourers began to be called 'Swing Riots'.
The impact of the westward expansion of settlers in the USA are listed below:
- The white settlers moved westward and then settled on the Appalachian plateau. Then, they moved to the Mississippi valley between 1820 and 1850. Here they changed the entire landscape into agricultural belts and displaced the local tribes. The local tribes were further pushed towards the West.
- To raise new crop and explore new lands, the settlers after the 1860s swept into the Great Plains across the Mississippi river. This region then became a major wheat-producing area of America.
- In the late 19th century, American urban population expanded quickly and the export market developed. During the world wars, the world markets boomed; since Russian supplies were cut off and USA had to feed Europe due to the Russian Revolution.
- The spread of railways made it simple to transport grain from wheat producing regions for export to the east coast. By 1919, nearly 74 million acres of land was under wheat cultivation in America.
- Westward expansion provided the force for development of new technologies in agriculture to meet the increasing requirements of new habitats and land.
Thus, USA came to overlook the world market in agricultural produce and came to be called the bread basket of the world.
Advantages of the use of mechanical harvesting machines in the USA are listed below:
- The machines allowed big farmers to rapidly clear large tracts, breakup the soil, remove the grass and prepare the ground for cultivation.
- The machines completed work efficiently and speedily with a minimal number of labours. With power-driven machinery, four men could plough, seed and harvest 2,000 to 4,000 acres of wheat in a season.
Disadvantages of the use of mechanical harvesting machines in the USA are listed below:
- Machines reduced dependence on labour leading to unemployment. For poor famers it bought misery and no jobs.
- Many farmers bought machines on loans considering the boom would last. However, they had to face hard times once the boom ended by 1920s. They faced difficulty in paying back loans. Many of them were driven to take the extreme step of deserting their farms.
- Production had expanded so rapidly that during the post-war years, farmers were left with large surpluses and overflowing store houses. This led to a collapse in the export market and fall in wheat prices. Thus, extensive cultivation made feasible by machines resulted in the Great Agrarian Depression of the 1930s, which ruined wheat farmers everywhere.
- Unrestricted use of machines ruined the entire landscape resulting in ecological imbalance. Periods of plenty were followed by droughts. Ordinary dust storms became black blizzards. The American dream of land of plenty turned into a nightmare.
There are many ecological lessons that can be drawn from the conversation of the countryside in the USA from a bread basket to a dust bowl. After the 1930s, they realised that they should respect the ecological conditions of each region. Thus the various lessons are listed below:
- That man must value environment protection and use natural resources safely.
- The usage of technology and development should be nature-friendly.
- Man's aspirations to conquer nature and control the environment can lead to ecological imbalance.
- Exploitative use of land for commercial purposes should be avoided.
- There should be a constant check by the government on the ecological balance of the country.
In the late 18th century, the East India Company was buying tea and silk from China for sale in England. As tea became a popular English drink, trade in tea became important, moving up to 50 million pounds in value. This created a problem because England at this time produced nothing that could be sold in China. The Chinese were suspicious of foreign goods and Chinese rulers did not allow foreign goods to enter China, so payment could be made only in silver coins or bullion, which was unacceptable to the British because it would impoverish the nation.
The British, therefore, started an illegal trade in opium with the Chinese merchants. The profit from opium trade could be used to buy tea and silk from China. The British needed more and more opium to export to China and therefore they insisted that Indian farmers should grow opium to fulfil the opium demand from China.
Indian farmers were reluctant to grow opium because of the following reasons:
- They were unwilling to turn their fields over to poppy.
- Opium was supposed to grown on the best fields that were used to grow pulses. Thus, the farmers were unwilling to sacrifice the quality and cultivation of pulses for the sake of opium.
- Many farmers owned no land. Thus, to cultivate opium, they had to lease lands at high rates from landowners.
- The cultivation of the cultivation of opium was a difficult process, as the plant was delicate, and cultivators had to spend long hours nurturing it. This meant that they did not have enough time to care for other crops.
- The price paid by the government was low; hence, it was unprofitable for cultivators to grow opium at that price.
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